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Turning Oy Vey into JOY VEY: Esther’s Place

Posted on November 15th, 2019 by

In this month’s Performance Counts Rachel Kassman takes the measure of a holiday market and introduces two new shopping opportunities for Baltimore. To read more posts from Rachel, click here.


Performance Counts: November 2019

Whether it’s finding the perfect symbol to celebrate a bar mitzvah, showing your love on an anniversary or trying to put a smile on the face of all your nieces, nephews, baby cousins, and kids at the holidays, we all know the trials and tribulations of gift shopping. That’s where Esther’s Place, the JMM shop comes in. From treating yourself to getting ready for the holidays, here at the Museum we try to make Esther’s Place a one-stop shop to reduce stress and make shopping easy and fun.

With the weather turning chilly and our thoughts turning to the dancing lights of hanukkiah, we’ve officially entered the holiday shopping season – this year Esther’s Place is participating in three separate special events! This past weekend, from November 7-10, Esther’s Place set up shop at the annual Museum Shop Holiday Market at the Mansion at Strathmore. This was our fourth year participating in the Holiday Market and once again was a highly successful endeavor. We sold over $7,800 worth of merchandise, and perhaps even more importantly, we spoke to dozens of folks who were excited to learn about the Museum, taking brochures and program guides home to plan their visits.

Fun fact: The most popular item sold was Hanukkah candles (56 boxes), with Hamsas coming in second in the single item-type category with 39 sold. Our custom Oy Vey Old Bay magnets where the top-selling single item sold at 36! As usual, Mah Jongg merchandise proved popular with 54 Mah Jongg-related items sold over the four days.

This Sunday, November 17, Esther’s Place will be appearing as a special pop-up at the Owings Mills JCC from 10am – 3pm. This is our first solo pop-up, so if you’re in the area, be sure to stop by and say hi to JMM Deputy Director Tracie Guy-Decker, who will be on hand to help you find the ideal gifts for all your loved ones. We’ll also have plenty of Hanukkah candles in a variety of colors, styles, and materials on hand.

On Sunday, December 1, Esther’s Place has another first – we’re participating in Museum Store Sunday. Developed by the Museum Store Association, Museum Store Sunday is a way to bring attention to the importance and impact of museum shops. Shopping at Esther’s Place supports the mission and programs of JMM, making our exhibits, talks, education programs, and tours possible. It’s shopping you can feel good about!

(Most of the) Year in Review:

Books continue to top our “Best Seller” list – unsurprising at a museum, after all! The top 10 selling books since January 1, 2019 are an interesting mix of perennial favorites and special event books:

Stitching History from the Holocaust exhibit catalog (a whopping 46 copies!)

President Carter: The White House Years by Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat, our 2019 Annual Meeting Keynote speaker

And There Was Evening and There Was Morning by Ellen Kahan Zager and Harriet Cohen Helfand – in addition to the book, we have art prints of Ellen’s illustrations for sale in Esther’s Place!

Houdini: Art and Magic by Brooke Kamin Rapaport

Big Little Book of Jewish Wit and Wisdom by Sally Ann Berk

Voices of Lombard Street exhibit catalog

Did Jew Know? by Emily Stone

On Middle Ground by Deborah Weiner and Eric Goldstein

Glimpses of Jewish Baltimore by the late Gil Sandler

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy and Elizabeth Baddeley – you may remember Debbie as half of our 2018 Annual Meeting Keynote speakers!

Our most popular children’s items are the cuddly Macca Beans Collectables (my personal favorite is Gefilte, the fat blue fish) and the matzoh ball stress balls (not just good for kids!) at 53 and 32 pieces respectively. Sadly, it looks like the Macca Beans are no longer being produced, so once we’ve sold out of our current stock, that’s it!

Perhaps most exciting for me are our custom JMM products. We introduced our “Oy Vey,” “Shalom Hon!,” and “Smalltimore” magnets and mugs over the summer in 2018 and they have proved as popular as we hoped. “Oy Vey” is the clear winner, with 136 magnets, 45 coffee mugs, and 37 camp mugs sold this year – I’m glad our homage to Maryland’s love of Old Bay is bringing a smile to so many people.

Remember, Esther’s Place is always open during the Museum’s regular hours – you can stop in or call 443-873-5179 with any questions! Let us help you make your gift shopping stress free and help us by supporting the Museum with your purchases.

P.S. Special props to Board Member and regular front-desk volunteer Roberta Greenstein for her brilliant suggestion of Turn Oy Vey into Joy Vey as we brainstormed what to call our Esther’s Place pop-up!


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